Monthly Archives: January 2013

Mostly on Again Love Affair

I have an on-again off-again love affair with food. As a child of the sixties I grew up around the dining room table. Who am I kidding? I grew up around an aluminium and arborite table obtrusively set in a kitchen designed by and for a muppet.

It was the best we could do at the time. My father had just taken an early discharge from the RCN to partner with a long time friend and open their very own sporting goods business. Around our table the cash flow went out the other direction for quite some time.

Regardless, that was a time when most menu ingredients, outside of staples, were seasonal and very dear. One had better be thankful for what was put in front of one because there were children starving in Biafra. Translation: If you want the yummy dessert placed just out of reach of your pudgy little fingers you had better clean up that plate young man and show some respect for those less fortunate. “Nothing left if you please.”

No wonder as a kid I was fat. It wasn’t because we were fed a diet of fast prepared, trans-fatted goo dolloped out of a jar onto something resembling pasta or pizza or bread or whatever… Do not get me started: Crackers, meat and cheese cryovaced in self serving snack packs disguised as a healthy choice for school lunch? “Clear!”

Self Serving Snack Packer

Self Serving Snack Packer

No. I was destined to be outfitted by ‘Husky’ brand clothing because as a kid I was force fed. Although my mother insisted I was merely big boned. Any wonder I get all tingly at the sight of foie gras.

I had two older siblings. Had. One passed away at age 39 from complications with obesity and the other recently passed at age 59 from complications with diabetes.

Nine years ago I was pushing 280 pounds of huskiness. Diagnosed with type two onset diabetes I was testing my blood several times a day and inhaling medication to ‘control’ everything from blood sugar to high blood pressure. This at a time with one brother dead, the other not doing too well and a father dead from a coronary. “Next!”

Control? Yes. Heed the warnings. Do the right thing for your loved ones as well as for yourself. Choose wisely and consume in moderation. Thanks Doc.

Today my 6’1″ frame supports something around 190 pounds. Maybe more. Not bad. Off all medication and routinely pressure test 115 over 65. Resting pulse around 55, sugar and cholesterol levels on the low side. Controlled by a diet based upon moderation not limitation.

Cream in the coffee? Yes. Bacon with my free range eggs? Occasionally. Foie gras glazed across home made bread? Make it so mon capitan and top up the malbec while you’re at it!

Love Affair in a Jar

Love Affair in a Jar

I refuse a diet absent of all things fat and tasty but instead practice safe consumption. I enjoy my mostly on again love affair with good, rich, healthy food. Viva la vita!

Cheers!


On Funnel Farming and Hearty Stock

Fast food isn’t about food. Fast food is about funneling food en masse to folks who believe they are too preoccupied or too incompetent to cook for themselves. A person who identifies either as a reason for not utilizing their kitchen has their priorities or brain out of balance. Why else would one entertain fast food. Convenience? Lazy git.

Lazy Git

Lazy Git

Forgive me: In our society it should be mandatory for every student to study Home Economics. We have a responsibility to every young person in this country to ensure they all have an opportunity to exit high school with a clear and basic understanding of meal preparation, land stewardship and conservancy, personal health care and hygiene, personal income tax preparation and respect for their elders.

Where were we? McFake fast food. Today, Big Agra has become so proficient as funnelers of food that the fast food industry exists more for stock holders desirous of dividends than anything resembling stewardship. Funnel farming operates with little regard for the health and well being of the farmer or the land.

There is a solution. Get to now your kitchen. We can think of no better way to begin in the kitchen than the ability to prepare yourself a wonderful stock. Something as simple as boiling down roasted chicken bones to yield a nutrient packed stock for soup, gravy or sauce will make your life better. Its true. Life is just better when a hearty stock in is in the picture.

Hearty Chicken Stock

Hearty Chicken Stock

Your homemade stock is the beginning of slowing down the Food Funnel effect which is a good thing.

We favour chicken stock that incorporates an Asian flair. Here is how its done in farmersdotter’s kitchen:

Basic Hearty Chicken Soup Stock:

Yield: 6-8 litres

What you’ll need:

8-10 litres water

3-4 pound organic free-range chicken with the nasty bits

2 large onion peeled and cut in half

4-6 carrots pealed and roughly chopped

8-10 celery stalk roughly chopped

7 large cloves of garlic

salt & pepper to taste

For an Occasion Make It Asian and Add: 

3 ounces sliced fresh ginger

2 whole star anise

6-8 cloves

1 ounce cinnamon stick

3 ounces light brown sugar

2 tablespoons fish or oyster sauce

1 bunch of cilantro

What you’ll want to do:

1: If you have cooked your chicken remove meat from the chicken bones, and set aside for later use in soup. If not, you can place your chicken pieces into the pot and remove the poached meat later. Regardless, place the bones, basic ingredients, and water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a slow simmer. Cover and continue to simmer for up to 12-18 hours. Check the water level and periodically add water to ensure bones are covered in liquid.

Make Mine Asian:

Simply add the Asian Ingredients to the basic process. To further enhance the experience try to put a light char on the vegetables. Either quickly fry or roast vegetables on high heat. Better still, and loads more fun, place cut vegetables on a foil lined cookie tray and scorch the exposed flesh with the open flame from a crème brûlée torch. In addition it is always a good idea to toast spices immediately prior to use. You can accomplish this in a hot, dry, non-stick fry pan but mind you don’t over do this step. Burnt spice is not desirable.

2: After your stock has simmered and developed intense aroma and colour let it cool. Strain your stock into a large container and chill. Fat will rise and congeal on the top. As much as we like all things fat it is important to skim the fat from the top and discard. It has served its purpose and any healthy fats are exhausted. Keep stock refrigerated until use. Simply ladle out your stock and reheat with noodles and chicken or tofu. Top with scallion, crushed chilli and lime. Voila, instant pho ga.

Served with a healthy dish of broccoli sauteed with ginger, garlic and oyster sauce you have a quick wonderful meal made from your hearty stock.

Pho Ga

Pho Ga

farmersdotter loves to visit Marc Matsumoto’s No Recipes for inspiration. His blog will instill confidence and the technique you need to cook well and cook often. Cheers!


On Being a Farmer and On a Rant

This first year on the job as ‘farmer’ has its perks. My boss is pretty good. Cute too.

Sexist? Bite me.

Perk #1: I can get away with that because my boss thinks I’m pretty cute too. No accounting for taste. And if ‘bite me’ offends then click away. Cheers!

As farmers we pretty much control our day to day activities. We screw up or get lazy we merely impact our pride or our bottom line.

As organic farmers we have immediate access to some of the best meat, seafood, and produce in the world. Not to mention some pretty fabulous wines. But then folks everywhere in the country have unrestricted access to similar products in addition to some of the most sinister meat, seafood, and produce lurking  in the grocery isles beneath nondescript labels.

Because GMO labeling on this continent is archaic in comparison to the EU and Asia, the choice between best and sinister is not always clear. North American producers are not required to identify GMO constituents in their product ingredient list. There are some very simple ways to translate food labels to avoid GMO’s if that is your choice. And it should be. Bite me.

The proliferation of GMO’s in the market place is threatening organic producers globally. There are cases of organic producers losing their organic status at no fault of their own but simply because GMO seed somehow contaminated their property.

These organic farmers have little to no recourse.  Legislation protecting GMO manufacturers exists because there is an assumption they are fostering principles of sustainable agriculture. The legislation is flawed. GMO developers operate in a manner not consistent with the principles of sustainable development.  Indeed, legislation protecting the GMO industry may well contribute to a decline in food security, the environment, and deepen poverty in the developing world.

How can society effectively promote a fair and competitive marketplace while producers from one sector can be legislated out of business because of the provisions granted to another sector? The advantages and disadvantages of GMOs must be carefully considered.

We read labels and make the best informed choice we can. Then we vote with our wallet. We opt for non GMO first and organic second. Our preference is local certified organic. The real pricy stuff where we know exactly where our purchasing power is going. It is our money after all.

We can not and will not knowingly support GMO manufacturers. Our aim is not to put GMO manufacturers out of business but rather prevent them from putting us out of business and thus reducing our choice to McFood.

McFood

McFood

Farmer Perk #2 is having the time to write the drivel for this blog. If you made it this far you may have some perk time as well. Consider yourself a farmer in training. Consider some further reading:

GMO Awareness: Insightful blog with simple tips and knowledge about GMOs

cban: Canadian website campaigning collaboratively for food sovereignty and environmental justice

Cheers!


Saturday Slam #6

The spotlight of the Saturday Slam shines upon the CRTC. However, I have been known to digress and digress I shall.

Decision time has arrived. Time to to decide which wireless providing leach is allowed to attach itself to our wallet.

With the plethora of phone styles available one would think deciding upon the phone would be the difficult task when undertaking a new wireless contract. Providers by comparison should be easy. Well the phone, like our last, are iPhones. We like them and they serve us reasonable well.

Morris' iPhone Home Screen

Morris’ iPhone Home Screen

Our previous provider was Rogers. The service deemed proper from Rogers was not what one would expect from a corporation desirous of retaining one’s patronage.

We had basically decided to switch. But farmersdotter, ever cool and rational, thought there may be an opportunity to negotiate a better deal from the devil we know. I had my doubts because we had already confirmed from the Rogers store in Penticton that we could indeed port our phone numbers over to a new provider once our sentence was pardoned.

Now you would think any sales representative worth their pay cheque, once confronted by a client desirous to switch providers, would seek out the nearest phone booth to don the ever powerful cape of retention and leap into sales hyper-drive. But no. Blank stare. *blink-blink*

What we didn’t realize at the time was the cape of retention resides deep within the steamy bowels of Roger’s retention department. That hideous department mortals must enter in order to pass through the intestinal clutches of their wireless service provider.

It worked. We got shat out the other end with a new arrangement and a Rogers customer “interaction number” to prove it. Basically, the Rogers retentive voice told us to return to the Rogers store in Penticton and all shall be well and truly magnificent.

But no. Upon return. Blank stare. *blink-blink*.

The attending shoveler of all things poopy informed us that in the past he had told Rogers a ‘million’ times that the Penticton Rogers store is not designated as a dealership. *blink-blink*. Translation: poopy boy is not privy to the crucial codes contained in the all important customer “interaction number” and can not help us.

And lo fell away the mighty cape of retention. We (farmersdotter) valiantly tried one final time with a call to the Rogers customer service centre but to no avail. The cape lay motionless. Retention-less.

Bye bye Rogers. Been nice to know ya but never again will you be rewarded from our wallet for such a grand display of ball dropping on the same play. Were are now with Telus. *heavy sigh* Talk to me in three years..

Perhaps the real culprit here, to get back on topic, is Saturday Slam recipient Canada’s Radio-Television Communications Commission who’s regulations allow for three year contracts. The CRTC launched an online discussion to get input on what a new code for wireless service should contain. First off it should be noted Canadian consumers pay more for wireless services as compared to other OECD countries  primarily because of three year contracts.

NDP consumer critic Glenn Thibeault noted in his own submission to the CRTC that three-year terms offered in Canada lock consumers into contracts that often go far beyond the typical lifespan of a heavily used wireless device.

The CRTC is expected to soon issue a draft code after which a second round of online consultations will be launched. Public hearings will begin in February.


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